2023 French Open Round 1 Picks: Can Dominic Thiem Find Magic on Monday?

2023 French Open Round 1 Picks: Can Dominic Thiem Find Magic on Monday? article feature image

ATP Tour/Getty. Pictured: Dominic Thiem.

The whirlwind of matches at the French Open got underway Sunday, as the first third of the first round was completed. Monday sees another batch of players get their campaigns underway.

That includes two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem, who looks to end his clay season in better form than it started as he takes on Pedro Cachin. Let's delve into that match, along with another men's match on Monday's docket.

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French Open Round 1 Picks

Dominic Thiem (-140) vs Pedro Cachin (+110) 

8:30 a.m. ET

It's been a tough road back for Thiem, whose peak level simply doesn't look like it'll ever return after his injury.

Perhaps it's just taking him a long time to get there, but his return as a middle-of-the-road player appears as though it may sustain for as long as he continues playing.

His backhand is still a joy to watch, but the forehand simply doesn't get nearly as much behind it as it once did, and his gas tank still appears to be at reduced capacity when it comes to being able to play for prolonged periods.

That's a massive red flag for this event in particular, as the men play best-of-five tennis and winning a third set is necessary.

Considering how much his performance tailed off in the second set against Hamad Medjedovic at a Challenger in his native Austria, as well as the second set at a Challenger in France against Corentin Moutet, picking Thiem to be a favorite in a longer format seems like a dangerous proposition.

Further, it's not like he's playing an incompetent player on the dirt.

Cachin is a solid threat on clay and is an elite Challenger player and peripheral Tour-level caliber kind of guy on this surface. The Thiem of a few years ago would likely crush Cachin and dictate play from start to finish. The current iteration? He simply doesn't have as large an edge on the forehand and is susceptible to running out of energy against someone that can extend points.

I have Cachin as the favorite here when factoring in the elongated format as well as Thiem's recent struggles.

Pick: Cachin ML (+110 via Caesars)

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Dusan Lajovic (-195) vs Zhizhen Zhang (+162)

10 a.m ET

This is another match where I believe the extended five-set format comes into play, as Dusan Lajovic squares off with Zhizhen Zhang.

We've seen Zhang perform across surfaces, but his style is one that thrives more in quicker conditions (as we saw in Madrid), rather than the slower courts found in Paris.

He plays an incredibly aggressive game, and while he has the weapons to cause upsets, his style also comes with its fair share of unforced errors.

Zhang is also not the best problem solver on court, as we saw at the Challenger Tour level earlier in the season, where he blew several leads from a set and break up once players adjusted their games and played high-margin tennis, waiting for his unforced errors.

That's not a great sign against someone who is a clay-court specialist in Lajovic. The Serbian has a decent serve, but it's his game from the baseline that stands out on clay.

He constructs points well and his one-handed backhand does a great job of finding acute angles that opens up the court for his next shots.

In best-of-five tennis on a slow court, I'll gladly side with the more tactical and consistent player to emerge victorious.

Pick: Lajovic -3.5 (-120 via FanDuel)

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